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view of preventing the French and Spanish squadrons from forming a junction. In this, however, as has been previously mentioned, they did not succeed. The enemy being then nearly double in the number of their ships, and relying on their superiority, vauntingly crossed the channel and came in sight of Plymouth, just as a convoy of stores was entering the harbour from Portsmouth. From some reason, which was never properly explained, the enemy did not molest the convoy, but permitted it to pass into the Sound without the slightest molestation. The whole coast was in a state of alarm, and it was confidently expected that Plymouth would be taken by surprise, as at that time it was in a very bad state of defence. The enemy were at one time close in shore, and so much did the beauty of Mount Edgecumbe strike the Spanish admiral, that he declared he should claim it as his part of the prize, if they succeeded in carrying the town.
The gasconading of a Spaniard is proverbial, and put a Spaniard and a Frenchman together, and they will conquer the whole world, if boasting could assist them in the achievement. Plymouth was already in the possession of the Frenchman, and the Spaniard was comfortably and nobly domiciled at Mount Edgecumbe; but they knew that Sir Charles Hardy was at sea, and they also saw the fortifications of Plymouth bristling with cannon, ready to pour out their contents upon the invading ships, and judging that they should most probably place themselves between two fires, they very prudently resolved not to expose themselves to any fire at all, and sheered off down the channel, to the great astonishment and satisfaction of the garrison and inhabitants of Plymouth.
On the arrival of the Prince George at Plymouth, she was placed under the command of Admiral Rodney, Admiral Digby's division being about to be sent with other vessels to throw supplies into Gibraltar, the whole being under the command of Admiral Rodney, as Commander-in-Chief.
During the stay of the Prince George at Plymouth, Prince William paid a visit to his royal parents at Windsor, a measure that by no means met with general approbation, and was
considered by the youthful associates of the Prince as an act of favouritism not exactly consistent with the rules and discipline of the navy. The necessity of the step was by no means apparent, and as for the expediency of it, it was a very questionable point. The circumstance of leave of absence being about the same time refused to another midshipman, whose father had just died, occasioned no little ill blood in the cock-pit of the Prince George, and the royal midshipman came in for no little share of the irony and ridicule of his messmates in going to see his mother, at the same time, that during his absence an additional duty would be imposed upon them, to which they did not consider they were in any degree bound to submit, whilst he was taking his pleasure at Windsor. Prudently speaking, it was certainly not a very politic act on the part of the royal parents, at a time perhaps, when he was beginning to be accustomed to the privations and discipline of a man of war, to bring him back again to the scenes and splendour of royalty, with which, if he drew the comparison with his situation on board a ship, the latter would not rise very high in his estimation. It was like bringing a boy from school to his home, when the pleasures of the latter are so keenly enjoyed, that the discipline of the former becomes more hateful and irksome.
Prince William rejoined his ship about the end of November, and during the voyage to Gibraltar, he performed all his duties punctually, according to the orders issued by his superiors; and perfecting himself, by the most assidious study in the science of naval tactics.
On their passage out, they fell in with a Spanish fleet of store ships under convoy of seven men of war, and captured the whole, in number twenty-two. One of the captured vessels was named the Prince William in honour of his Royal Highness.
This may be considered as the first affair in which his Royal Highness “fleshed his maiden sword,” and as he is particularly mentioned in the despatch of Sir George Rodney,
we shall give the account of it, in the gallant Admiral's own words.
“ Sandwich at sea, January 9th, 1780. “ Lat. 41°, 44' N. Long. 14°, 251 W.
“ Cape Finisterre, E. N. E. 176 leagues. Yesterday at daylight, the squadron of ships under my command, descried twenty-two sail of the line in the north east quarter. We immediately gave chace, and in a few hours the whole were taken. They proved to be a Spanish convoy, which sailed from St. Sebastians the 1st of January, and was under the protection of seven ships and vessels of war, belonging to the royal company of Caraccas, viz:
“ Part of the convoy was laden with naval stores and provisions, for the Spanish ships of war at Cadız, the rest with bale goods belonging to the royal company. Those loaded with naval stores, and sale goods, I shall immediately despatch for England, under the convoy of his Majesty's ships, the America, and Pearl. Those loaded with provisions, I shall carry to Gibralter, for which place I am now steering, and have not a a doubt that, the service I am sent upon will be speedily effected.
“ As I thought it highly necessary to send a sixty-four gun ship, to protect so valuable a convoy, I have commissioned, officered, and manned the Spanish ship of war, the Guipuscuano, of the same rate, and named her the Prince William, in respect to his Royal Highness, in whose presence she had the honour to be taken. She has been launched only six months, is in every respect completely fitted for war, and much larger